The mayor of Seattle has just announced that city officials are starting work on legislation that would vacate or dismiss charges for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Mayor Durkan wrote in an editorial: “People’s lives were ruined for misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Too many here in our community faced huge legal bills and fines, or had a harder time getting loans, apartments, and good-paying jobs.”

Vacating and dismissing the charges in Seattle will mean that thousands of city residents will be able to get a fresh start since marijuana possession was legalized in 2012.

The announcement is a welcomed follow-up to California’s recent efforts to wipe the slate clean for over one million residents convicted of similar possession charges after the state legalized recreational marijuana use on January 1st.

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“Our action will affect people who had been convicted of offenses for conduct that is now legal under state law. People won’t have to take any actions like hiring a lawyer or going to a court hearing,” says Mayor Durkan.

“I hope these actions we’re taking here in Seattle can lay the foundation for other cities, counties and state to act, too.”

“Addressing the wrongs that were caused by the failures of the war on drugs for many years in this country – and particularly the damage wrought on communities of color – won’t happen overnight,” says Durkan. “But today, this action is a necessary first step in righting the wrongs of the past and putting our progressive values into action.”

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